Marion Gilbert (1876-1951) and Madeleine Duvivier (dates unknown)

Language: French

Jane Eyre translation: 1919

These names are both pseudonyms. Marion Gilbert was in fact called Odette Bussard, born Maurel, and Madeleine Duvivier was Madeleine Tournier, born Maurel. They were sisters, daughters of a Protestant pastor and a British mother, who died when Odette was three years old. They were both actively involved in feminist movements (as early as the 1910s), but there is no archive on Madeleine Duvivier.

Marion Gilbert founded with George Sand’s granddaughter, Aurore Sand, ‘the George Sand Club’, a charitable organization for women of letters. She was also part of the female farmers’ circles. She became a member of the first women’s gourmet club called ‘Les Belles Perdrix’ and one of first contributors to the collection of recipes of the same name, published in 1930. In the same year, she participated in the exhibition of writer-painters, along with Lucie Delarue-Mardrus and Anna de Noailles. She was part of the jury of the Viking Prize and the literary circle named ‘La Française’. In the 1930s she took part in the Women’s Academy of Letters founded by Marie de Wailly.

Interested in writing from a young age, she first worked for local newspapers before writing novels from 1913 (Le Sang sur la falaise) onwards. Most of her literary production was published as a serial in La Petite Illustration comme Celle qui s’en va (1921). She received a couple of prizes, including in 1926 the ‘Bookman’ prize for her novel entitled Le Joug (a prize won the year before by François Mauriac for Le Désert de l’Amour). La Maison du doute (1929), then considered as one of the best novels written by a female writer, was shortlisted for the British Femina Prize, finally awarded to Georges Bernanos.

In 1902 she had married Léon Bussard, an agricultural engineer with whom she had three children: the death of one of her sons inspired her a collection of poems entitled Son tombeau (1936). On top of writing original works, she acted as a translator of English texts, such as Just Crime by British journalist and writer of popular fiction Headon Hill (1910) or Jane Eyre, published in French in 1919. She is also credited with a translation of Dickens’s David Copperfield (1924) and The Adventures of Mr. Pickwick (1929). Most of her translations were done in collaboration with her sister.

Text by Céline Sabiron, Léa Koves & Vincent Thiery